As my time in Melbourne, and Australia, draws to a close I have been making the most of my days with those close friends who's company I am soon to be separated from. R and I took to the hills this weekend as she showed me a magical place in the Dandenongs full of art and nature and wonder.
The William Ricketts Sanctuary is about an hours drive from Melbourne up winding country roads and small towns. The sanctuary itself is not large but its impact is huge. nestled amongst giant gum trees and ferns that look like something out of Jurassic park are sculptures that embody the essence of Aboriginal spirituality and Australian nature.
William Ricketts was himself something of an eccentric and an amateur mystic who lived as a part time hermit, full time artist in the woods. Early in his life he spent much of his time integrating himself with the local aboriginal people and had come to respect and revere their way of life. It was his duty, as he saw it, to help their philosophy of being live on and to make it accessible to others. To this end he was inspired to create sculptures that meld man and trees, woman and rock, plant and animal.
The sanctuary is not just a place to view art but to experience it. The pathways, the water ways, the little nooks are all thought out. I felt like I was walking around a permaculture art installation until I realized that I was. William may have passed on before the word came into vogue but the idea behind it, sensing and mimicking patterns in nature, incorporating the land and animals all into one system could well be applied to his sanctuary.
It was raining and cold but the gums soaring upwards i the mists were a good reward for braving the late autumn weather and the undergrowth of ferns acted as a kind of giant ferny umbrella. We took our time, and froze our fingers off taking photos and enjoying the energy. Staggering half frozen back to the car only when our memory cards were full and are hands no longer functional.